GAUGUIN -VOYAGE DE TAHITI, FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL, France, 2017. Starring Vincent Cassell, Tuhei Adams, Malik's Zidi. Directed by Edouard Deluc. 100 minutes. Rated M (Sex scene and nudity)
Paul Gauguin is best remembered for his work in French Polynesia, in Tahiti, the Marquises. Spending some time there in the 1880s, he returned to France, was associated with Vincent van Gogh as well as many of the prominent artists in Paris. He was married, with a large number of children.
On his return, he tried to persuade artist friends as well as his wife and children to come with him again to Tahiti. The artists thought it was too far away and too difficult. His wife complained of the squalor in which they lived.
Nevertheless, he returned, rather ill but going into the mountains to find the locals, to commune with nature, to hunt and gather, to talk some of the local language, to share in French, to hear the stories of the gods and creation and to paint. His health improved. The local people also wanted him to take a wife and designated a young woman with whom he conversed, learning the different myths of the people, a testing time of one month. She then became his wife.
He then returned to the capital, his health improved, he had done some paintings and was also involved in chiselling images in wood. He had a young associate who was creative in carving, but was able to outsell his master to the passing tourist trade. The young man also had eyes for the artist’s wife, following her from church one day with the artist following, angry, with his gun but not shooting.
Paul Gauguin also kept his wife inside, locked, wearing European dress, having formal meals with European food and cutlery. To get money he worked as a wharf labourer.
No money came from France so ultimately he was repatriated as a poor man. However, he was soon to return to the islands and paint for another 10 years, classic paintings but he was to die in poverty.
He gained a considerable reputation in the 20th century.
French Festival until the end of March.
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.